Mets Merized Online » Mets 2010 Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:40:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets 2010 Draft Rewind: Round 7, Jeff Walters – @jawalters11 Sun, 01 Dec 2013 15:47:13 +0000 jeff walters_headshotIn the 2010 MLB draft, the Mets chose RHP Jeff Walters in the 7th round with the 212th overall pick.

Jeff has been pitching in the Mets system for the last four seasons and in 2013, he progressed to Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League. On November 20, 2013 he was added to the Mets 40 man roster.

Jeff began his professional career pitching for the Kingsport Mets (Rookie) of the Appalachian League, appearing in three games (2 starts) with a record of 0-2 and an ERA of 8.10 in 10 innings.

In 2011, the young righthander pitched for the Brooklyn Cyclones (A-) of the New York Penn League, where he appeared in 14 games (all starts) with a record of 4-6 and an ERA of 3.32 in 65 innings, allowing 62 hits, walking 24 and striking out 48 with a WHIP of 1.32.

He was transitioned to the bullpen in 2012, beginning the season with the Savannah Sand Gnats (A) of the South Atlantic League before being promoted to the St. Lucie Mets (A+) of the Florida State League, where he remained for the rest of the season.  In 36 games, Jeff recorded a record of 4-5 with an ERA of 2.30 and 4 saves.  He pitched a combined 54 2/3 innings allowing 47 hits, walking 12 and striking out 49 with a WHIP of 1.08.

In 2013, Jeff continued his climb through the season, this time as the closer for the Binghamton Mets (AA) of the Eastern League.  He appeared in 53 games with a record of 4-3 and an ERA of 2.09 with a league leading 38 saves. He pitched 56 innings allowing 46 hits with 16 walks and 60 strikeouts to go with a WHIP of 1.11.   With his performance in 2013, he was named co-winner of the Sterling Award (along with Noah Syndergaard) as Most Valuable Player of the Mets AA affiliate.

Through four minor league seasons, Jeff has appeared in 106 games (16 starts) with a record of 12-16 and an ERA of 2.92 and 42 saves.  He has pitched 185 2/3 innings, allowing 168 hits, walking 58 and striking out 166 with a WHIP of 1.22.

This kid oozes with talent, confidence and a live fastball that touches 96 to go with it. We will see Jeff Walters on a Major League mound in the not too distant future and don’t be surprised if we see him pitching in Queens as some point in 2014.

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Mets 2010 Draft Rewind: Round 29, Hamilton Bennett – @Ham_Bone28 Fri, 29 Nov 2013 14:52:48 +0000 Hamilton-BennettIn 2010, the Mets 30th round pick was Josh Edgin – the highest numbered round thus far to make it to the majors from that draft class.  The pick right before Josh was 29th round selection, LHP Hamilton Bennett, chosen 872nd overall out of South Carolina.

Hamilton has posted good numbers in his four years in the Mets organization, rising through the ranks and earning a promotion to AA Binghamton on July 13th, 2013.

2010 was Hamilton’s first year in the organization, which was spent with the Low-A Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York Penn League.  In 19 appearances out of the pen, he went 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA.  He pitched 28 1/2 innings, gave up 27 hits, walked 9, struck out 24 and had a WHIP of 1.27.

2011 saw Hamilton start the season with the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League where he made one appearance before being sent to the Class-A Savannah of the South Atlantic League. Hamilton continued his progress and appeared in 35 games with a combined record of 2-0 and a 1.89 ERA and 14 saves.  The lefthander pitched 57.0 innings and allowed 34 hits, walking 15, striking out 57 and posting a WHIP of 0.86.  His 14 saves for Savannah was 2nd on the team, just behind Josh Edgin.

With a solid 2011 performance under his belt, Bennett rose another level up the ranks and spent the 2012 season at Advanced-A St. Lucie.  In 41 games out of the pen, Hamilton delivered another terrific season, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.55 ERA.  In 60 innings, he allowed 51 hits, walking 17 while striking out 54 with a WHIP of 1.13.

After the 2012 season, Hamilton represented team Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, where he made one appearance in Regensburg, Germany against Team Germany.

2013 saw Hamilton begin the season at Port St. Lucie, but his continued solid play earned him a promotion to Binghamton.  At St. Lucie, he posted a 3-0 record with a 1.96 ERA and 9 saves in 38 games.  After his promotion, he posted a 1-0 record with a 1.46 ERA in 8 games.  Combined on the season, Hamilton appeared in 46 games with a 4-0 record and a 1.85 ERA with 9 saves.  He pitched 58 1/3 innings, allowed 46 hits, walked 14 and struck out 60 with a 1.03 WHIP. It was by far the best performance of his professional career.

Hamilton has been a top performer for the Mets for four consecutive seasons now, getting better each step of the way and displaying phenomenal ability of keeping baserunners to a bare minimum.  Good lefty relievers like him can have long major league careers.  While he may not be on some of the top prospects lists, if he keeps on putting up numbers like he has in the minors, don’t be surprised if you see Hamilton Bennett on a major league roster someday. Follow Hamilton on Twitter at @Ham_Bone28.

Presented By Diehards

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The New Philosophy Fri, 29 Oct 2010 16:03:32 +0000 Like many of you, I have been paying attention to the World Series.  I knew if just one of either the Phillies or the Yankees were in it, I’d have a problem because I’d be too emotionally invested.  If it was both, I wouldn’t be able to watch it at all.  However, two teams that I can kind of like each in their own way are playing in it, so I can sit back and enjoy being a spectator (and no, I am not a Cablevision subscriber).

Let me give you a few good examples why.

Back in the offseason going into 2007, Barry Zito, finesse pitcher of the formerly “Big Three” in Oakland, was the big ticket free agent.  While I was rooting for the Mets to give him an offer he couldn’t refuse, I am pretty sure my jaw dropped when I saw what he was offered by the San Francisco Giants: $126 million over seven years.  I could get behind Omar Minaya for not throwing money away like that.  Zito has not exactly been the $126 million man they hoped he would be in the Bay Area.  He has not posted a winning record in the four seasons he has played there, boasting a record of 40 – 57.

Imagine if he was on the Mets.  I’m sure we’d be screaming that he should be cut, I’m certain we’d be booing the contract (not the uniform or the player, of course).  The Giants have not made a statement and cut him, and Zito even slightly redeemed himself early this season.  The Giants did not get off to a smoking start (and were even a long shot for the Wild Card at one point in the season), but Zito posted a marginally impressive first half, then faltered in the second.  While Giants manager Bruce Bochy claimed that if not for Zito’s strong-ish first half, the Giants might not even be in the playoffs, let alone the World Series.  However, they made a bold move in keeping Barry Zito off the postseason roster.

That is a strong statement right there: if you do not perform, no matter what you are paid, you will sit this out.  San Francisco is not exactly a “small” market, but their team has a history in that their most storied players were all stars in San Francisco, but much of the team’s glory took place in another city (New York, for those of you keeping track at home).  However, while someone like Oliver Perez is relegated to mop up duty in the bullpen with a Barry Zito-esque contract in a larger market in New York, San Francisco is not afraid to make a move like leaving Zito off the roster, no matter how much he makes.

Back in 2009, I took a Southern California baseball stadium road trip, and one of my destinations was Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  Their opponent that day was none other than the Texas Rangers.  To me, the Angels always had a solid team, a class-A organization, and the Rangers seemed to be bumbling (especially as to how atrocious their Alex Rodriguez signing was initially).  I had the opportunity to sit next to a Texas Rangers fan who happened to live in the area.  I asked him about the team because quite frankly, I didn’t think too much about them (although at the time I did know that Mr. Texas Nolan Ryan was intimately involved with the Rangers operations then).  He told me some things that not only surprised me, but I thought about this year when they came out of nowhere.

This fan told me that they had a change in philosophy.  Ryan made it clear that he wanted to concentrate on pitching, speed and defense (sounds like Omar Minaya’s plan, then went on to sign the likes of Luis Castillo and Moises Alou), and even eliminated pitch counts.  I had to say, I liked that philosophy.  No one knows pitching better than Nolan Ryan, but to be able to take an old school philosophy and attach to today’s Moneyball and high-priced free agency game, that was unheard of.  Especially in a town that seems to be more football oriented than baseball. Again, a bold statement that speaks volumes now.

Today, the Rangers may be down two games in the World Series, but their story has captured the nation.  They made a bold trade at the deadline this year to nab Cliff Lee, arguably the crown jewel pitcher in the free agent market in this upcoming offseason and one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Their “claw” and “antlers” bit has been viral over the Internet.  Bengie Molina, who started the year off in San Francisco, was traded to the Texas Rangers, and will get a World Series ring, regardless of who wins.  Josh Hamilton, a frontrunner for American League MVP with a great story of overcoming alcohol abuse and drug addiction, led the team with his bat and over the New York Yankees, practically anointed as repeat World Series champions due to their large payroll.

Yankees payroll: $206 million

Texas Rangers payroll: $55 million

Sometimes a change in philosophy is what is needed.  At the beginning of the 2010 season, did any of us suspect that we would have two teams west of the Mississippi representing the AL and NL in the World Series, or that Texas and San Francisco would be either of those teams?  Probably not.  But it goes to show that a commitment to winning and a strong team philosophy do manage to change a team and bring them together to a common goal.

I know this seems out of place on a Mets blog, but I am going to tie it together right now.

Today, the Mets are going to hold a press conference announcing Sandy Alderson as the new General Manager.  I’m sure as fans we can break bread on a few things today: the Mets don’t need another “yes” man running the organization (Alderson certainly is not one of them).  We don’t need him to dismantle the “core” of the group, just come in with a firm plan, something the Mets have been lacking since the days of Frank Cashen.  We do need to get rid of dead weight, however, we would not need to do so right away to appease a fan base.

It’s the philosophy, silly!  I’m pleased that Alderson is the new General Manager.  He’s got his work cut out for him, but as long as there is a plan and he doesn’t contradict himself, I’m eager to see how the next few years unfold with a distinct plan.

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A Victim of His Own Success Tue, 05 Oct 2010 12:00:49 +0000 Admission is the first step to beating addiction, particularly when you’ve been living in denial for so long.  To that I have a big declaration to make here, and I wanted to share it with fellow Mets fans.

I have come to the conclusion that 2006 was an accident.

Hi Mets fans, my name is The Coop, and I am a recovering Metsaholic, suffering from occasional bouts of Post-traumatic Mets Disorder.

Judging by the headlines of the last week, it was a foregone conclusion that Omar Minaya would no longer be with the Mets in the capacity of General Manager, at the very least.  Whether he will just be a high-priced scout, or he’s going to take a two-year paid vacation courtesy of Sterling Enterprises, the fact is Mr. Minaya will no longer call the shots on the team and be a part of building the current team.

When he was hired at the end of the 2004 season, I didn’t think either way about him.  I knew he was a good scout, I knew he had picked out some talent in his tenure with Major League Baseball teams, but running a team?  I guess he was better than what was there already.  A glaring miscue on his resume was of course the Bartolo Colon for a package of soon-to-be-superstars including Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips (and a gentleman named Lee Stevens) when he was General Manager of the soon-to-be contracted Montreal Expos, many fans dismissed it.  I was one of them.  See, he was in a lose-lose situation.  His team was about to be contracted, and they had a legitimate contending team.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know is this was just done for the mere fact that the Expos were going by the wayside (To Washington, D.C…) or if Minaya truly believed this would be a good deal.

It just is a set-up for my rationalizing and the excusing of bad behavior on his part as General Manager of the New York Mets.  Like many Mets fans I am sure, I defended him and drank the Omar-ade right up until 2008.  To give this man a contract extension when the Mets were on the verge of faltering for the second September in a row was beyond me, though.  We, as fans, have had it bad with the PTMD since then.  We lost our home in Shea, AND we saw that results did not matter to the ownership of this team.  I think we all knew that, but to see it happen so obviously was a slap in the face.

However, when I came to the conclusion in a casual conversation with another fan this weekend that 2006 was an accident, it was like a great weight was lifted off my chest.  It was then that I realized that Omar Minaya wasn’t a bad guy.  He was merely a victim of his own success.  After stumbling into the proverbial golden pile, he truly had to believe that he could do no wrong.

Going into the 2005 offseason, Mets fans had little hope that the “crown jewel” of the free agent market, Carlos Beltran, would sign with the Mets.  And why would he?  He was a playoff superstar with the Houston Astros, and it was clear his DNA star quality was suited for that “other” New York team.  When the Mets signed Pedro Martinez that year, I wondered why?  He just came off an amazing run with the Boston Red Sox improbable championship, I believed David Ortiz when he said, “Pedro aint going to no Mets.”

When the Mets signed Carlos Beltran, as much as I admire him and he’s become one of my favorite players in recent years, it was also the denouement of Omar Minaya’s tenure.  The Mets had become a “win now” team, antithetical to what the “New Mets” as Beltran proclaimed in his press conference was to be.  Speed, athleticism?  It turned out to be more of the same, but I drank it up.  Hook, line and sinker.

I wasn’t expecting much in 2005; when they made a bonafide run for the Wild Card, the pressure was in a sense on to continue on that mission going into 2006.  Add the big bat of Carlos Delgado and the fiery spirit of Paul LoDuca to the mix, and they took a hold of first place in the NL East and never looked back.

Here was my way of thinking: since they made it to within a game of the World Series, I was never disappointed, but rather proud of their accomplishments.  So is life of a Mets fan though.  I wasn’t expecting it.  The pressure was on, piled higher and deeper, after that though.  So what does he do?  Felipe Alou whispers in his ear about his boy Moises having two more good years left in him, so he gets a ticket to the DL for two years on the Mets’ dime.  He dishes out awful contracts for Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez for one good year and consistently inconsistent other years.  He opts to not get in a bidding war over Jason Bay and STILL manages to overpay for him.  He stands pat at not one but several trading deadlines, simply because he values what he has on the roster more than what’s available (and the one notable move he did make set the team back years).

I guess when one has “Full Autonomy,” one can engage in that type of behavior.

Other questionable behaviors included having his manager, Jerry Manuel, operate the team with a 23 1/2 man roster (since Luis Castillo would play from time to time) when their competition operates with 25.  Either Minaya’s hands were tied but it was clear that whatever happened in the past was in the past.  The Mets had come full circle since Minaya came on board as the General Manager, and were marginally better than the 2004 team he inherited.  To all the building up in the minors he helped to contribute, there were no viable Plan Bs or even Plan Cs to help the team overcome injuries in 2009.

That was all on Minaya.

I am a firm believer that you have to give credit where due, and take the blame for things gone bad.  While I am thankful to have guys like Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana on the team, Omar Minaya did not do enough to support his “vision” of growing the Mets into a viable contender.

The Mets are not better than they were in 2004, they’ve managed to stay the course.  Clearly, the status quo just is not good enough.

The guy who tried to get everyone to like him, the guy who tried too hard to do everything right and say all the right things, fell miserably short in trying to top his “accident” of 2006 each year afterwards and was a victim of his own success.  The Mets certainly weren’t the worst team money could buy, but it was certainly the most lackluster team money could buy.

The fact is, Omar Minaya had resources most General Managers covet and still could not cover up his glaring mistakes.  He should have been gone two years ago, but better late than never I suppose.  Let’s see if they get it right for us this time.

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Positives Of The Mets 2010 Season Tue, 21 Sep 2010 11:00:56 +0000 A lot of people on here and twitter and in general say I’m very negative about the New York Mets and they are correct.  Overall, the last 4 seasons have been disappointments with 2 consecutive collapses, the injuries last season and now this dreadful season.  2010 has seen rookies being called up when not ready, more mishandling of injuries and just downright bad baseball. However, there have been 3 big positives this season such as:

1. R.A. Dickey – Without a doubt I and I’m pretty sure Mets fans in general did not think R.A. Dickey would be as good as he has been this year.  On January 5th of this year when Dickey signed a minor league deal most people, including myself thought it was an insignificant signing but a record of 11-7 and ERA of 2.92 Dickey has been one of the best pitchers on the team.  He should have more wins but the offense hasn’t been very kind to Robert Allen Dickey.

2. Angel Pagan - Angel Pagan has in my mind proved his worth to the Mets this past year.  After Carlos Beltran just decided to have surgery before Spring Training and leave the team without a center fielder Angel Pagan stepped up and showed what a great player he is.  Gone were the mental mistakes that plagued him on the bases and in the field.  He did suffer an oblique injury that sidelined him for a few games but he has been relatively injury free this season.  Pagan should be the everyday player in center field but the selfishness of Carlos Beltran won’t allow that.  Pagan as he has played more innings has grown to a good player and in my opinion he’s the MVP of this disaster of a season.

3. Mike Pelfrey - Big Pelf needed a good season after 2009.  The 1st half of the season Big Pelf was the ace of this pitching staff.  If it was not for Charlie Manuel and the Phillies continual paranoia of the Mets Pelf would’ve been on the All-Star team. Big Pelf after the break wasn’t as sharp, but you can say the same for this whole team but in his last several starts he seems to be back to form.  Pelfrey has won 15 games this season and has a chance for a few more.  After last year I this is a great sign and I expect better things from Big Pelf in 2011.

I also would consider Jon Niese as a big positive this year. In his last few starts he looks tired as he’s pitched more than he ever has, but I see big things for this young pitcher and look forward to his 2011 season.

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The Mets 2011 PreDICKEYment Mon, 13 Sep 2010 12:43:36 +0000 In a year rife with moral victories and the subsequent heartbreak that comes along with it, R.A. Dickey has been one of the more pleasant surprises with the 2010 Mets.  I’m sure most Mets fans weren’t expecting much from a 35 year-old quasi-journeyman knuckleballer (I certainly wasn’t), we can now break bread that R.A. Dickey is one of the rare bright spots in a more-often-than-not disappointing season.  Perhaps we should change the show to “Everybody Loves R.A.” instead of Raymond.

In one of the seldom-made smarter moves on the Mets’ management part leading into 2010, Dickey was signed to a minor league contract, making his first appearance with the big club in May of this year.  And what has transpired is nothing short of magical.  Okay, fine.  It was more than what most expected from him (we’ll take our miracles where we can these days, thank you very much): he has gone 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 22 games started.

Yes, in a year when pitching had more question marks than exclamation points, R.A. Dickey provided a nice solid punctuation mark on the season’s starting pitchers.

According to Baseball Reference among other sites, Dickey last made $525,000 on the books for the Twins.  Since he signed a minor league contract, I cannot find record of what he is making for the Mets this year.  However, I guarantee you it is not enough since he really has been the Mets showstopper this year.

For THIS year, operative words.  Of course, with his performance, Dickey has grown on the fans and thus, now talk has occurred with the usual — Should we lock him up now or later?

When I initially had the idea for this column, I had wanted to talk about the ramification of perhaps offering a multi-year deal for R.A. Dickey, and I was going to argue against it for obvious reasons. One is, we’ve learned that offering a multi-year deal, especially to a pitcher, is not a very good idea (especially based on a one-year performance).  Two is, whenever the Mets think that lightning will strike twice, we learn time and again it certainly never does.  Third is Dickey’s not getting any younger.  I know knuckleballers tend to go for years and years, but to give him a multi-year deal would be shortsighted based on that and that alone.

Of course, with the news that Johan Santana is not only out for the year with season-ending shoulder surgery, the type of surgery he is due to get has been problematic for pitchers regaining their form, this might change some of the dynamic for the Mets pitching staff in 2011.  Santana’s surgery is bad news not just for Santana but for the Mets as well.  However, this is the time to think about Dickey’s future, since I think that the Mets also have to think in terms of Johan Santana NOT being “JOHAN SANTANA” of old.

Dickey is historically a below-.500 pitcher.  However, if he gets two more wins on the season, he will be exactly at .500 lifetime.  I think it would be premature to give him anything long-term.  A one-year contract, maybe.  With an option.  And that’s IT.  Based on his historical performance, the Mets should not be offering anybody, regardless of what they are making now or how well they perform as a pitcher, anything long-term.

I won’t disagree he is worth every penny he is earning, if not more.  In fact, Dickey himself is so humble that he is not taking any of this for granted.  He was even quoted as saying: “I want to continue to have the mentality that I’m entitled to nothing. That mentality helps me work well and continue to be good at my craft.”  A “problem” like R.A. Dickey is a good one for the Mets to have, right?  After this season though, I think any long-term contract for any pitcher, even R.A. Dickey who has proven his worth, would be problematic.

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Conspiracy Theorists Thu, 09 Sep 2010 23:23:53 +0000 This latest media hub bub regarding three Mets really has my blood boiling.  No, not about what you think – the fact that it’s a story to begin with, that’s what gets me.  I guess the Mets having another subpar season isn’t enough for local sports writers these days and adding fuel to the Mets fans fires with the three particular players in question will sell more papers, I suppose.  I actually don’t have a problem if Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez or Carlos Beltran couldn’t make a non-mandatory (operative word) event.  It was non-mandatory for a reason.  Would it have been a cool gesture had they attended?  Absolutely.  But they did not HAVE to go or answer to schmoes like you and me as to why they didn’t.

Picture it this way: would bloggers, local writers, fans, etc. be up in arms had it been, I don’t know, David Wright, Ike Davis and Jon Niese who didn’t attend?  Let’s say David Wright had to attend to a school opening in rural Virginia that he was responsible for, Ike Davis said he didn’t have to speak about non-baseball issues and Jon Niese, being a young guy, said veterans made him “uncomfortable.”

I think some of us would roll our eyes and go about our business, but because it happened to include Castillo, Perez, and Beltran — three Mets players who were not as much “prominent” as some writers suggested but under fire for underperformance in particular — THEN it became a story.  Chances are, if Wright, Davis or Niese didn’t attend, most of us would shrug and say, “Meh, whatever.  It wasn’t mandatory.”  My guess is we’d have never heard about the great things that Fred Wilpon and particularly Sterling Enterprises do for veterans, if at all.  It would have quietly been kept under wraps, as most charitable works are.  Which is sad, because the team really is getting one thing right, at least on the paying-it-forward department.

What really gets my goat here is the timing.  Far be it for me to defend Castillo or Perez, but I happen to think Beltran has been taking too much criticism these days.  Anyway, the whole propaganda about three Mets who are recently being called into question for various reasons are being thrown under the bus once again for being non-patriotic, or seemingly so.  I have even heard some fans say, “Well they are not citizens,” or “they are not FROM here.”  Well, technically, they aren’t “from here” but Beltran is most definitely a U.S. citizen.  You know what is sad about this whole situation?  That the 30 players who DID make the trip, some of them not U.S. born, were not mentioned.  The good that came out of the Mets players’ visits to the veterans’ morale.  That is what is missing in these stories.  But no, because it was the Mets, because it happened to center around these two players, I guess the press saw a GOLD MINE of material.

There are two very big reasons why these three were called into question  One is that we are two days away from the saddest day in U.S. history.  New Yorkers, in general, are incredibly sensitive to any perceived anti-patriotism, especially so close to home.  The general feeling is, these three guys are given the opportunity to make exorbitant amounts of money in this very country, and they can’t even take an hour or two out of their schedule to visit soldiers who fight for their right to make said money (among other things).

The other reason is something anyone with any working senses can get: the Mets want these guys to be as uncomfortable as possible.  In the same town where Dick Young had a hand (or “underhand”) in driving The Franchise out of town, the Mets are doing the same by planting seeds that these guys don’t support our country, our troops and don’t support YOU, the tax-paying citizens who keep this country great.  So let’s make their lives as miserable as possible so they no longer want to play here, that they “retire” or “quit” on their own.  Although that won’t happen, my feeling is this is more directed at Beltran, with his backloaded contract, the Mets I’m sure would like nothing more than to have him waive his no-trade clause and wave bye-bye to New York.

Just merely an observation that I’ve made.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get the discord, I get why people are upset.  What I don’t get is the vitriol behind it.  The New York media of course is ALL OVER this like white on rice because of the significant heart-string impact it will make.  Not only with the timing of a sensitive historical event but because Mets fans have made it clear that these three guys are the bane of their existence.

Of course I recognize these guys have not made a good case for themselves with this particular visit.  Beltran is the only player who has somewhat taken the high road, saying that he had visited veterans with Fred Wilpon (who should be applauded for his support of these worthy causes), but he had to attend to personal business with his charities in Puerto Rico.  With that logic, shouldn’t we call Carlos Beltran PATRIOTIC for using his wealth and philanthropy for the common good in his native land?

Castillo and Perez did not help their case with their excuses.  Castillo gets “squeamish?”  You know what makes me squeamish?  Watching you try to catch a routine pop-up, Louie.  As for Perez, that is such a scripted Boras answer, it’s not even funny.  However, to play devil’s advocate, I do want to point out they didn’t HAVE to attend.  What I will say is…Luis.  There is this great saying and it goes like this: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Far be it for me to defend these guys though, but this is a non-issue, a story on an off-day that the press is all over.  The local press members don’t have to read several blogs to know that these three particular players are on the doo-doo list of most fans (not to mention the team’s management).  This was SO EASY to do.  Cast these guys is as unappealing light as possible, then let the vitriol commence.

This was a case of cheap and schlock journalism.  If we don’t see that, then we are part of the problem, too.

My friend Dave Singer over at NY Sports Dog possibly said it best today: the veterans at Walter Reed fought for personal freedom and choice.  Like it or not, Beltran, Castillo and Perez did what was within their rights.  Deal with it.

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The Kids Are All Right…We Hope Thu, 02 Sep 2010 01:14:08 +0000 Strange ways, here we come…

I believe that with the trade of Jeff Francoeur last night to the Texas Rangers, the Mets have essentially conceded the season. Not that I truly believed there is a “chance” that things could turn around, but you can never tell with baseball.  I guess I’m a bit naive that I refuse to give up hope until mathematical elimination is complete.  However, I am not going to go so far as to say the trade of Francoeur specifically was white-flag waving.  He is a likable guy, cannon of an arm, lousy hitter.  On this team, unfortunately, offense is key and if he wanted to play every day, well don’t let the door hit you.

Let’s just be thankful that we got a warm body for him at this point.  Although Joaquin Arias isn’t really anything to warm up to, with a lifetime .322 OBP over four partial season (ouch), he can at least play some second-base.  Much like the stomach being the way to a man’s heart, playing second base is the quickest way of getting to the big club these days.

However, I’m not going to lament the loss of Jeff Francoeur, simply because it was bound to happen, and it may as well have been now.  The proverbial waving of the white flag has occurred indirectly, though, and that is in the fashion of the focus on the “kids,” specifically the September 1st callups.

Photo credit by Sharon Chapman

Lucas Duda is starting in left field against the Braves tonight, and Jenrry Mejia will be making his first major league start on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.  They are not the only homegrown talents not named David Wright or Jose Reyes who are playing regularly.  Mike Pelfrey is currently getting shelled at “press time” and Jonathon Niese made the start last night, also of a similar fate.  Ike Davis is our starting first baseman, and Josh Thole is the starting catcher. The Mets’ playing field is green, folks, and I’m not just talking about the grass.

With the Mets lineup on September 1st, we are seeing a lot of homegrown talent, specifically talent drafted and scouted by Omar Minaya & Co.

Isn’t this what we wanted?

It’s entertaining watching them play, to say the least.  I saw earlier a fudged play by young Thole, yet a redeemed play at the plate later on, halting a potential run scored by Rick Ankiel. The Mets did lose Rod Barajas to waivers recently; however, I know he was not figuring into the long-term plans of the team with Thole looming in the distance.

Jon Niese has incredible poise, but the occasional hiccup like a rookie should have.  I won’t argue if the coaches decide to limit his pitches for the rest of the season, but it has been refreshing to see him have a relatively successful rookie season.

Lucas Duda should have a nice cup of coffee with the team in September, at least keeping Jason Bay’s spot warm should he return in 2010 (I’m not holding my breath).  Several of my friends have seen him play on the B-Mets when they would visit the Trenton Thunder.

If ever there were a team Jenrry Mejia should make a start against, it’s the team with a higher payroll and a more disappointing team than the Mets, the Chicago Cubs.  I disagreed with his handling earlier this season, and I hope that has not hurt his development for the long-term.

What confused me though is the pick up of Arias in the Francoeur trade.  I understand the Mets won’t get someone like Josh Hamilton, per se, for Jeff Francoeur, but I wondered why there was a pressing need for a non-power hitting, no-walk taking first baseman who was a career AAAA-er.  I did see, though, the term “infielder” certainly applies to Arias, as he also plays second base and shortstop.  I hope injury-prone Reese Havens becomes less so and emerges as the Mets second-baseman of the future.  Is it too much to dream that perhaps the Mets are gearing up to eat Luis Castillo’s contract or at the very least eat a part of it?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that the Mets are going with the youth-route. I do, however, think it’s a nod to the idea that the Mets are looking to play the role of spoiler, and not be competitive in the stretch.  “Meaningful games” indeed.

I guess the bright spot to this whole thing is that reports of the Mets’ farm system death have been greatly exaggerated.  To say the children are the future though…There’s certainly depth, and I’ll leave it at that.  A youth movement, and less of a dependence on veterans though…can we break bread on that at least?

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Don’t Call It a Boycott: The Great CitiField Sit Out Thu, 19 Aug 2010 16:00:45 +0000 I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Joe D for his support in promoting the CitiField Sit Out.  The sit out is an experiment, borne of some discussions on Twitter, via several ideas on Facebook and other social media, based on Mets fans’ general feelings towards the team.

I have often said that to categorize me as “angry” would be incorrect.  Yes, I know, the Coop comes off as a chick with an attitude problem.  (Ahem).  Angry is not the word I would use here.  Disappointed and discouraged, yes.  Not angry though.

While fellow MetsMerized Online writer, Joe Spector, has started a group called “Boycott CitiField,” I can sympathize with this cause but I cannot fully give myself to a total boycott (sorry, Spector).  Perhaps it’s my own definition of the term, I feel a boycott is more permanent and long-term.  I also know that I am a Mets and baseball fan and to deny myself a game is treacherous.  I would be hurting myself, in the long run.

Like the sit-in in the 1960s, what I’m calling for is a peaceful demonstration, one that calls for fans to sit one out.  Baseball fans are often referred to as the “10th man.”  Well, what would happen if fans didn’t show up or as few fans as possible showed up (I’m talking in the low 1,000s)?

Imagine no cheers.  No boos.  No clapping.  No lines at Shake Shack.  No sea of blue and orange revelers coming into the stadium or swarming around the Shea Bridge.  No signs in the outfield.  No one getting on camera catching a foul ball in the stands.

Fans are not appreciated.  We root for the laundry and come out faithfully every year, yet Mets ownership/management have taken us for granted for far too long.  I have made no secret of the fact that I am a season ticket holder.  This experiment is not about money to me.  My money has been long spent not just on tickets but on travel, hats and other paraphernalia.  If I don’t re-up my plan next year, who cares?  Someone else will probably pop right in and buy them.

Therefore, the idea is symbolic.  If the fans don’t show up, is it really a game?  Also, it sends a message: that the attendance that has been steadily dropping since the new stadium novelty lost its lustre…and it can indeed plummet further.  Just because you pretty-up a stadium doesn’t exactly mean that the people will come.  Just ask the Washington Nationals about that.  If the product you are dispensing as a sports and entertainment company is not appealing, then the novelty of coming to the stadium wears off as well despite the bells and whistles that accompany it.

I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not sure if this will work.  As an example, I have a good friend who had long-standing plans for Wednesday, August 25, to attend the game, and is furious that I won’t change the date!  I figure we must strike while the iron is hot, to remind the organization that without us, it is NOT a game.

Many fans are receptive to the idea, though.  I’m not saying “don’t watch the game” or “don’t go to a game ever again.”  I’m saying – watch the game!  Just don’t do it AT CitiField on August 25.  Go to your local watering hole.  Invite some friends over.  Make it a party.

The fans do have the power to initiate change.  Attendance is plummeting for several reasons, the team’s current performance notwithstanding (attendance was plummeting as they were running away with a great home record too, by the way), ticket prices are prohibitive, “weekend plans” include weekday games that are restrictive for fans who can ONLY attend on weekends, or they are like our own Joe Spector, the fans who want to create their own change by refusing to go to games until management shapes up.

Just sit out ONE game, Mets fans.  Some of you may not have been going anyway.  Let’s NOT go to the ballgame, and see how people react to a 15% full stadium on a weeknight (that’s my goal anyway…perhaps in September, the stadium will be emptier).

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The Mets 2010 Season – The Second Coming of 1983? Mon, 09 Aug 2010 11:45:19 +0000

“You judge a player not when he’s going good, but when he’s going bad.” – Keith Hernandez

Hernandez said that Friday night, as the Mets were taking on the Phillies in Philadelphia. Truer words couldn’t have been spoken and I believe you can correlate that advice and replace a singular player, with a team. A team can show you it’s true colors when it’s collective back is against the wall.

Take the Phillies who have been hit tremendously by the injury bug this year – losing key players at times such as Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and recently Ryan Howard. Yet as difficult as it has been for them, they fight on and have found ways to win whether through relying on each others talent or pure guile.

The same can be said of the Boston Red Sox who’ve seen Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Cameron and Kevin Youkilis fall, just to name a few. Yet they too fight on- 14 games over .500- and deep in the hunt for the American League Eastern Division with the Yankees and Rays.

Now look at the New York Mets. Look at the Phillies and Sox. Look at the Mets. Back to the Phillies and Sox. It reminds me of that childhood game on Sesame Street- One of These Things is Not Like the Other- and the Mets seem to be that glaring option that stands out in a most disappointing way.

Mets nation has grown accustomed to this defeatist, status quo mentality that has permeated the organization from top to bottom over the last few years.

George Orwell’s novel 1984, a literary classic, bemoans and illustrates a world in which freedom and hope are gradually destroyed and eventually overcome with totalitarianism and fear.

Orwell’s vision of our future, a bleak and depressing diatribe, mirrors in many ways where the New York Mets are now; where company group-think is the law of the land and reality plays no substantial part in decision making. It doesn’t have to be this way.


For the Mets, their point of demarcation came in ironically 1983, when Frank Cashen’s plan to rebuild a Mets franchise that was left in tatters prior to his arrival, started to yield gradual results. The team started the season led by manager George Bamberger and ended with Frank Howard.  Davey Johnson, managing the Mets triple A team, the Tidewater Tides, was earning his stripes and the attention of Frank Cashen.

They had aging future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who once again showed the Baseball world why he was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. His record of 9 wins and 14 losses, didn’t remotely do justice to his quality of pitching that year as his ERA was a respectable 3.55 for a team that lost 94 games. Interesting when you look at today’s team and see what Johan Santana means to the Mets.

Cashen, in an attempt to at the very least, express to fans that the Mets were no longer sitting on the sidelines while other teams signed free agent talent, took a chance on Cincinnati Red George Foster in 1982, trading for the 33 year old and signing him to a 5 year $10 million dollar contract, which was quite rare at the time.  Foster’s best season’s were behind him and in the time he spent with the Mets he never quite filled the role Cashen had envisioned. Ironic how with today’s Mets, Jason Bay seems to fill the role of George Foster.

The Mets however had a bright future on its way, solidified by Cashen’s realization that pitching is the key to success, and you just can’t have enough pitching. Ron Darling, a young talented Ivy Leaguer was acquired from the Texas Rangers along with Walt Terrell for the popular Lee Mazzilli.

Later Cashen would send Terrell to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman Howard Johnson. Little by little, Cashen was doing what many thought would be impossible- restore the New York Mets franchise and earn back the respect from the fans, lost over the years of neglect.

On May 6th 1983, the straw the would stir the drinks of many a New Yorker made his debut- Darryl Strawberry. The rest is Met history. Later in the 1983 season Frank Cashen was essentially handed a star for little in return.

Having rubbed manager Whitey Herzog the wrong way for years, Keith Hernandez- clutch hitting, defensive superstar first baseman of the St. Louis Cardinals- was traded to the Mets for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. Slowly but surely Cashen was piecing together a franchise that would redeem not only it’s fan’s loyalty but perhaps more importantly, redeem it’s own pride.

As fans it’s our birthright to be critical of our team as much as it is to be supportive. It’s not a matter of being negative or positive but a matter of being realistic in light of what we’ve seen from the 2010 New York Mets. Is this group of Mets, a pre-cursor of great things to come as the 1983 team was at one point?  This Sunday, for the first time since 1990, the Mets fielded a team with 7 players who were homegrown talent. 

Can we find it in ourselves as Mets fans to once again, see the silver lining in spite of the realization that the usual suspects are still calling the shots? Can we really embrace the franchise mantra coined by the great Tug McGraw, “Ya Gotta Believe” when every time we want to believe our faith is rewarded with arrogance and stupidity from the powers that be?

Not from this Met fan. Enough is enough.

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The Untouchables Fri, 06 Aug 2010 12:10:16 +0000 Almost as predictable as the Mets falling short in the wins column these days is the projected fall-out that occurs after each loss.  Every beat writer or sports news outlet is trying to find the scapegoat.  I find that laughable, since I believe Jerry Manuel, Howard Johnson or Omar Minaya are symptoms of a larger problem. I can’t believe that letting any of those guys go will help in the short or long term, except maybe in the appeasement of fans department.

Likewise, some fans are lamenting trades that never happened or were close to happening at the deadline.  We talk mostly about the “core” and the parts of the team who are “untouchable.”  It was rumored that in the Houston Astros’ quest to find a suitor for pitcher Roy Oswalt, the Mets would have had to relinquish Jon Niese, one lovely surprise this season.  In other rumored trades, Josh Thole or Ike Davis were the “major league ready” talent at the very least.  According to the writers and sources “close to the Mets,” the major league ready talent were classified as “untouchable.”

Let’s think about that word for a minute.  Untouchable. One Webster Dictionary definition of “untouchable” means “not to be handled.”  In the baseball world, and in Mets terms, there are players who will not be moved around despite anything that happens to that player or the team while the player is there.

To a spectator, the core has been construed as Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana, with supportive “home grown” players Davis, Thole and Niese (Mike Pelfrey to a lesser extent, since who knows what happened to him recently).  Let’s take a look at two members of this core: Jose Reyes and David Wright.  These two young guys are under contract for a few more years, and are incredibly cheap by most standards (especially by Mets standards, who have demonstrated the ability to overpay for unsubstantiated talent).  Wright made his debut in 2004, Reyes in 2003.  By most accounts, these two were the cornerstones, the future franchises, the Mets’ position player versions of our own franchise pitcher, Tom Seaver.

In the years they’ve been here, the team has been plagued with management-turnover and instability issues (Art Howe, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel have all been skippers of the team in those years), leadership issues (Carlos Delgado was considered the leader with his bat, yet would disappear after abysmal performances, setting up comments by teammates who noticed as well) and veteran presence (Cliff Floyd and Moises Alou, who were both prone to injury, and “Captain Red Ass” Paul LoDuca).

However, in the years since the Boy Wonders signed their extensions, the Mets went on an improbable run in 2006, making it to Game 7 in the NLCS, monumentally collapsing in 2007, falling apart at the end of 2008, no comment on 2009, to now: playing .500 ball 2/3 of the way into the season, which does not leave a huge margin of error down the stretch.  If you noticed, heartbreak is a more common theme than actual triumph in those years.

The only true “constant” they’ve had is that Omar Minaya has been the General Manager most of their years with the Mets and Jeff Wilpon has been around all those years.  It was Minaya himself who signed the “Dynamic Duo,” as they were heralded, to extensions in 2006, guaranteeing they would be Mets for several more years.

The Mets are projected to be a .500 team going down the stretch, and were so predicted by computers in the preseason.  The Mets also boast the fifth highest payroll in Major League Baseball at $132.7 million, and the third highest in the National League behind the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Clearly, payroll isn’t everything, since the Cubs are having their own nightmare of a season, and the Phillies are being bit by the same injury bug that plagued the Mets in 2009 (but they are still executing).

The Mets have been underachieving and accepting of it since, oh I would say June 2007.   It’s one thing to make moves and act like a big market team, which is clear they try to project on the ownership and management side.  However, getting the least out of the players and parts you have is another story.

I believe it’s a bit shortsighted of management to at least not consider offers for under contract players who are the supposed cornerstones of the franchise.  If ownership is truly committed to win and not by pure profit, then studying moves would be necessary to initiate a WINNING CULTURE.  Fans are getting restless, and I have to believe the players are as well.  They come to New York for fame, money and championships.  The current Mets may not exactly be the “Worst Team Money Can Buy,” but it’s certainly the most mediocre and blase team one can buy.

For $130-plus million, it can achieve a lot more.  Come October 3, 2010, this team may need to be reevaluated for those purposes.  If the players are the problem, and they are not executing, it’s time to get rid of them.  I want to state for the record: I am not advocating trades of Reyes or Wright.  Beltran has a no-trade clause; I’d also like to point out that Roy Oswalt did as well and waived it.  Moving right along, Johan Santana is a great “problem” to have.  For the record that I was not exactly “supportive” of trading away Niese or Thole or Davis for half-year rentals or even under-contract injuries-waiting-to-happen at the deadline.  However, if the Mets truly end up as a .500 team this season, why would there be so many untouchable pieces?  I am not saying a vanity move of trading Jeff Francoeur, who would not net a lot in return.  Cutting Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo outright would speak volumes; again, don’t see it happening.

I have to wonder what ownership is thinking these days.  Reporters need their “headlines,” and who better to talk to than Mr. Money Bags himself, Fred Wilpon.  Wilpon suggested that Minaya was safe for 2011 and that he believed Jeff Wilpon to be doing an “excellent” job.  Seriously, was Fred going to say something scandalous by suggesting Minaya could be on his way out or that he thought his son was doing a terrible job of managing the baseball operations?  However, it does bring me pause in the elder Wilpon’s thinking that if he believes things are going swimmingly, we can all expect more of the same in 2011.

MMO’s own Tie Dyed wrote a passionate piece on David Wright recently, projecting that if he walked, it could be devastating to the franchise like Tom Seaver’s trade was.  I see the comparison, but it would be a different environment since it would be contractual and not via trade.  Minaya is terrible at evaluating, dollars-wise, major league talent, what’s to say he would get anything of value for these guys anyway?  Perhaps it was luck that the Mets parted with such little in the Johan Santana trade (however, that was more Minaya overvaluing his own prospects…I digress).

All of this is hypothetical.  The Mets could possibly turn it on and go 44-14 in this next stretch and surprise us all.  Jeff Wilpon could say that Omar Minaya is being reassigned within the organization at the end of 2010, and that Howard Megdal is taking over the General Manager operations.  Come Opening Day 2011, we could all be high-fiving each other during the ring ceremony (yes, I still have a bit of Kool-Aid left).

If the path of .500 is enough to warrant that any player, no matter how good, is “untouchable,” then this team is in more trouble than the standings can ever point out.

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Playing Not To Lose Mon, 26 Jul 2010 02:46:59 +0000 Along with SNY analyst Bobby Ojeda. fellow former 1986-’er Darryl Strawberry is calling out the team for not only leadership issues (or lack thereof) but for not putting “fear” into their opponents.  “They laugh at these Mets,” says Strawberry.  While I agree with him to a certain extent, he has to understand, as well as many of us who came of age in the hey-day ’80s Mets teams (myself included), that the dynamic of baseball has changed such that it will be hard to compare the rip-your-heart-out brawling baseball teams in the 1970s and 1980s, Mets or otherwise, to today’s scrubbed and polished image players who have an endorsement deal.

I think it’s ironic that these same two guys have a lot of nerve calling the team out now.  Certainly, there are issues, but for a guy who slammed his pitching hand in a door after drinking too much one night and used a sorry “hedge clipper” cover up story, and a dude who sadly battled many demons only to leave his best years in New York behind him, well, let’s just say I won’t take what they say to heart easily.

Lately, with the Mets lackluster second-half coupled with a less-than-impressive West Coast road trip, everyone is talking “leadership.”  Who is the leader of the team?  Is Jerry Manuel the right guy to lead this team?  Who is the go-to person in the clubhouse when a player is having problems at the plate? Can the pitchers talk to a fellow pitcher to ask about their game approach?

Let’s start with Jerry Manuel.  Let me state for the record that I don’t necessarily have a problem with Manuel’s type of managing.  He’s the quintessential “player’s manager.”  He puts out the lineup and let’s the guys play.  Unfortunately, his style of managing does not translate well into the team he has today.  A good manager makes adjustments, and it’s clear to me that Manuel does not have a clue how to make those adjustments.

We may never see a team like the 1986 team play again, ever.  Not just the Mets but in baseball in general.  Players today have been coddled since they’ve been in Little League.  They’ve played on teams where they get trophies simply for “showing up” as opposed to being the “best” at something.  While that has worked wonders in building up the self-esteem of some youngsters, the fact is, there is no attitude, there is no hustle because they know at the end of the day, they get paid and that’s that.

I’m certain some players care about winning.  However, they are not TAUGHT how to win.  Manuel puts out a lineup and expects everyone to go out and do their jobs.  Unfortunately, like the MBA in the old FedEx commercials, they need to be shown how.  When Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets on June 15, 1983, he came with a chip on his shoulder, an MVP award under his belt and years of participating on winning teams in St. Louis.  He brought that attitude to the young players who were being cultivated on the Mets farm system.  In fact, he said himself when he saw Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Darryl Strawberry being brought up through the ranks, he knew the Mets were going to be something special.  When they added Gary Carter to solidify calling the game and his rough-and-tumble style of play helped round-out Hernandez’s field generalship, magic happened.  Hernandez’s respect amongst his peers and managerial staff made him the first captain in Mets history, and Gary Carter was named co-Captain.

Of course, Mets manager Davey Johnson had a lot to do with the so-called “swagger” of those teams.  However, he was smart to understand what and who he was working with.  He told them, famously, after not winning anything in 1984 to falling short in 1985, that they would not only win but they would DOMINATE.  Can you imagine saying that not just to the Mets but to ANY team these days?

My problem with the suggestion that, for instance, David Wright should be elevated to some figure head status in that he’d hopefully make the team his “own,” is this:  He is far too young…heck, he hasn’t even had that many years in the majors, let alone even won a championship, save the NL East pennant in 2006.  He could always walk after his contract is up.  I don’t think he would, however. I’m not saying if the Mets were to give a Captain’s “C” to someone, he could be the figure head someday, he could be good at it, just not now.  Let’s allow him to mature and BE a leader simply by doing, and not just because the management said, “This is your team, do what you want.”

He needs to be taught how to win.  None of these guys know how to do that.  Not Carlos Beltran, not Jose Reyes, not Luis Castillo.  Maybe Johan Santana.  That is evident after the team tends to win his starts these days.

This team needs to lead by doing.  I am not one to suggest a change in management will do anything tangible but in this case I highly endorse getting rid of Jerry Manuel immediately.  It’s clear that this team needs a manager who will LEAD, set a game plan, understand the roles of each player and not just hope for the best.

Hope is not a plan.

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D.O.A.: Deadline on Arrival Thu, 22 Jul 2010 12:00:07 +0000 If the past helps dictate the present, I have high doubts that Omar Minaya will make a move, any move, good or bad, to help this team at the trading deadline.  Why is that?  Well, when has he EVER been aggressive at the trading deadline?  Or with trades, period?

I had a conversation on Twitter a few nights ago about Minaya, actually, about this very topic.  Our consensus was while we thought him to be a great talent evaluator, as far as the “executionary” part of his title as General Manager, he falls short quite a bit.

In the offseason leading up to 2006, it seemed like everything Minaya touched turned to gold.  While he executed a deal for Xavier Nady to get rid of surplus outfielder Mike Cameron, some questioned the move, but the deal paid off in dividends right away on Opening Day that season as Nady quickly endeared himself to Mets fans.  Trading Kris Benson for a “bag of balls” that included Jorge Julio, who was turned around for Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and for “throw-in” John Maine, who quickly became a mainstay in the pitching rotation.

He fleeced the Florida Marlins in their fire sale, getting super slugger Carlos Delgado and fireball Paul LoDuca while giving up what amounted to be spare parts, vaulting the Mets from perennial Wild Card contender to immediate National League East Champions.  I was probably first in line, willing to drink whatever Kool-Aid the Mets and Omar were serving.  Looking back, though, since the Marlins made those chips available (along with Josh Beckett, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox that same offseason), I think that any sane person could have made those deals.  You and me included.

Then there was the “panic deal” in response to losing Duaner Sanchez to a season-ending freak car accident injury, he turned Xavier Nady around to get Roberto Hernandez and reclamation project Oliver Perez. We all know how well THAT deal has worked for them.

Minaya has been heralded by fans and beat writers (not to mention bloggers) for his propensity of the “deal not made,” which includes the non-deals and non-overpayment of the likes of Barry Zito, not to mention passing on Alfonso Soriano who is locked up with the Chicago Cubs for several seasons (truth be told, I am pretty sure he was never even close to being a Met, like, ever).

For example, when Zito signed a gargantuan contract with his native San Francisco Giants, everyone applauded Minaya for not overpaying simply to make a DEAL after falling short that season.  I have to say that if your only “panic move” is to orchestrate a trade for Oliver Perez, well, barring the residual (having him take up an unnecessary roster space because the management is too stubborn to admit they made a mistake), that’s not a terrible thing.

Sometimes the deal not made is the best thing.  Panic moves are never a good thing since it seems like the seller always seems to win somehow.  However, I wonder just how the sense of urgency is with Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon, who signs the checks and presumably is approval-stamping any and all potential deals that will be made.  If any.

I am not encouraged, due to the non-moves in the past at the trading deadline, particularly under Minaya’s reign.

In 2005, the big story was that the Mets were going to get Manny Ramirez.  That didn’t happen (of course the rumors of Manny-to-Mets never quite ended, even though he is gainfully employed by Mannywood themselves, the Los Angeles Dodgers).

In 2006, several “stories” surfaced, mostly by bored beat writers, about then-Mets prospect Lastings Milledge potentially involved in a big deal netting Barry Zito (see: aforementioned payroll-and-year usurping contract in San Francisco).  Personally I never believed any of those stories.  For one, Billy Beane stated ON RECORD that he never spoke to Omar Minaya.  If anyone read Moneyball, you’d know that to be true.

MIlledge was again the centerpiece in a potential three-way deal that would have brought Roy Oswalt to the Mets in 2007.  Of course, being that they brought in a third team with a crazy owner (Peter Angelos), the deal did not get done.  One good thing came out of it though: Oswalt signed yet a long payroll-and-year usurping contract with the Houston Astros that same year.  Well, good for Oswalt, bad for the Astros: he now is heavily involved in trade rumors once again.

The interesting thing in two of those scenarios is that a third team was needed to suit the needs of the team the Mets really wanted to conduct a deal with (the Rays were brought in to appease the Red Sox in 2005, Baltimore Orioles in 2007 for the Astros).  This leads me to believe that Omar Minaya is either a.) not confident in his own scouting abilities to send his own prospects/players to another team for a big chip or b.) overvalues his own prospects/players in a deal that other teams do not wish to deal with him as a businessman.

Judging from their style of play since the All-Star Break, and the dozen or so games leading up to it is that the Mets have been playing lackluster.  They are playing to the level (or beneath) their competition, they are not playing with any sense of urgency…heck, they even LOOK lethargic on the west coast.  They can’t use jet lag as an excuse…they’ve been out there for over a week.  I can tell you from experience, it’s much easier to adjust to their time than coming back here.

I’m not buying the whole “chemistry” thing either.  I do believe in a period of adjustment with Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo returning to the team.  Ultimately, they will get into a groove.  Who else do they have to look forward to returning now though?  Oliver Perez?  If that’s true, just shoot me.  Okay, don’t.  But you get the point.

My feeling is this, and I think we all need to be prepared for this.  Omar Minaya will not make any moves to help the team…nothing major anyway that we’d like to see and immediately help the team.  Today’s big news is that a deal is in place with pitcher Chad Cordero, whom as reports have shown Minaya has coveted since his Washington Nationals days.  Oooh, happy happy.  Not.  Too little, too late, as far as I’m concerned.  However, Cliff Lee is off the block, being he was traded just a few weeks ago.  Oswalt is as good as a Phillie.  Dan Haren’s not leaving the Diamondbacks (which is unfortunate, since I believe he’s the best fit for the Mets right now).

Yes, as history has dictated, Omar Minaya is not a move-to-make-a-move type of guy at the trading deadline.  Sometimes, that’s all well and good.  However, it’s unfortunate this season, because for the Mets to be fully competitive in the second half and the rest of 2010, a deal MUST be made.  A pitcher, a bat, who knows.  They need some kind of shake up and a thought outside-of-the-box, as fellow MMOer Stephen Hanks wrote yesterday, like trading Carlos Beltran (so long as he waived his NTC of course). Personally, I am a fan of packaging Angel Pagan.  I know, he’s been an MVP for the team so far.  Outside of Beltran, he is an incredibly valuable chip.  We can’t have it both ways, keeping valuable chips and getting talent in return.

I’m afraid the fans are going to be the only people who see that though.  I’m not sure if I should be scared, sad or just think it’s plain stupid.

It’s probably a combination of all three.  I’m hoping, of course, that Omar Minaya proves us all wrong and does not render this team dead on arrival on July 31.

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Mets 2010 First Half Report Cards Thu, 15 Jul 2010 20:48:36 +0000 Here are the results of our First Half Report Cards for the 2010 season. We graded the Mets in the following ten categories:

  • Starting Pitching
  • Bullpen
  • Catchers
  • Corner Infielders
  • Middle Infielders
  • Outfielders
  • Bench
  • Manager
  • General Manager
  • Overall

This year, we also decided to include an average overall grade in each category, to kind of balance things out.

The Way We Saw It…

Starting Pitching (B) – Santana is the key along with Pelfrey.  Niese is coming into his own.  The rest are the BIG question marks. Joe Spector

Bullpen (B-) – They have exceeded expectations in some respects.  The ‘pen will only be as good as Manuel treats them.  Of course, Takahashi in the ‘pen makes it infinitely better. The Coop

Catchers (B-) – We rode hot hands from Barajas and Blanco in the early going, and just as they started to fall back to earth, Thole shows up to keep things going. They’ve made a solid impact on the rotation. Joe D.

Corner Infielders (A-) – Wright could very well be headed towards an MVP season.  Ike is a blossoming star. Joe Spector

Middle Infielders (B-) – Jose Reyes is the team’s premier table-setter and catalyst, we can’t afford to have him miss anymore time. Second base has been a sore spot with Castillo on the shelf and ineffective when healthy. Tejada is not ready for prime time at the plate, though he has dazzled in the field. Cora has provided some key plays at the plate and on the field when he’s filled in. Joe D.

Outfielders (B-) – Pagan has been great, Bay a disappointment, but shows up and plays hard everyday, and Francoeur has been too streaky, but has had his moments. Beltran will change everything for the better. Doug Branch

Bench (C) – Thank goodness Fernando Tatis is on the DL, or I would give them a D. The Coop

Jerry Manuel (C) – Manuel is a good guy sure.  He’s made a few questionable moves that do make one scratch their heads.  His handling of Mejia is my major beef.  Total waste of the kids time.  He should’ve started the year in the minors and perhaps given a cup of coffee in September.  Period. Joe Spector

Omar Minaya (C) – His small moves are always better than his big splashes, and he repeated that pattern again this season with the Barajas, Blanco, Takahashi and Dickey signings. His grade could climb if makes sensible move or two at the trade deadline to bolster the pen and rotation. However, he has sat on his hands the last few deadlines, so only time will tell. Joe D. 

Overall Team Grade (B) – Who can complain about being 8 games over .500, minus their MVP Carlos Beltran and only one win from Maine and Perez combined? Doug Branch

Lets us know what you think and tell us which of us you strongly agree or disagree with.

My sincerest gratitude to all the great MMO Bloggers who participated in putting all of this together. Thanks for making the MMO community a very unique and wonderful place where all Mets fans can come to share their opinions, debate your thoughful and well presented posts, and expand on our Mets fandom.

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Where Are They Now? The Johan Santana Trade Edition Tue, 29 Jun 2010 12:57:49 +0000 On January 29, 2008, Mets fans everywhere rejoiced over the formerly-rumored-now-true stories about Johan Santana, a pitching force that many teams coveted from the Minnesota Twins, was coming to our team in a blockbuster trade.  We were not only parting with prospects that we could handle losing (especially in a trade like this one), the Mets were able to negotiate an extension right off the bat with the Venezuelan lefty.

The irony was, last year, as Carlos Gomez scored the winning run in the Twins’ one-game-playoff victory against the Detroit Tigers, many wondered if the trade was more of a favorable one to the Twins than the Mets.  After all, the Twins were going to the American League Divisional Series, and the Mets were simply making reservations at their closest golf course.  I think most of us non-Johnny-Come-Lately fans know that the Twins winning the one-game playoff and making the divisional series in 2009 had more to do with Joe Mauer carrying the team on his back than Carlos Gomez who scored one *measly* (though important) run against the Tigers.

After all, on November 6, 2009, the Twins traded Gomez to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. So far for 2010, Gomez has played in 49 games, has hit 5 HRs, 18 RBIs, and is sporting a line of .239/.280/.381. A player who is considered a “speedster”, Gomez has an incredibly low career OBP of .290.

This isn’t an article on Johan Santana or Carlos Gomez, however.  In fact, my inspiration for this post is something I overheard on WFAN as I was walking around Citi Field on Sunday afternoon.  Howie Rose was talking about the Johan Santana trade with the weekend opponent the Twins to see how the respective parties benefited from it.  I believe that although Santana is having a lackluster year thus far, the Mets have done just fine without the four parts the Mets traded for him, including Gomez who was the only position player involved in the trade, and three pitchers, Kevin Mulvey (R), Philip Humber (R) and Deolis Guerra (R).

Kevin Mulvey is a former second round draft pick with the Mets, having signed on August 9, 2006.  Mulvey was later the “player to be named later” in a late-2009 deal the Twins consummated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, sending pitcher Jon Rauch to the Twins.  For the Diamondbacks, Mulvey is currently on the 40-man roster, having appeared in two games for them this season. His stats are abysmal, but he’s still young so he can certainly work out the kinks as he matures.

When the trade occurred, if there was someone I had to be “upset” about potentially losing was Philip Humber, an injury-prone prospect but had a lot of upside to counteract it.  At one point, I remember some rumblings that Humber could potentially have a higher ceiling than Mike Pelfrey, who was considered more “major league ready” than Humber was in 2007.  Perhaps most Mets fans remember Humber being underused towards the end of 2007, as he was thrust into a start in the last week of the season in critical games the Mets absolutely had to win.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see what Humber could have brought to the table, since he was traded to Minny for Santana just a few months after the season’s end.

Humber is another member of the “I Was Traded For Johan Santana and All I Have Is This Stupid T-Shirt” club, but is no longer affiliated with the Minnesota Twins.  You see, he was granted free agency after the 2009 season, and is now a Kansas City Royal.  However, on June 10, 2010, Humber was hit with a line drive while pitching in a game for the AAA Omaha Royals.  He was able to walk off the field on his own and was taken to the hospital for observation.  No other information has been found at this time on the extent of his injury.

Deolis Guerra is an interesting case, having never pitched a game in the major leagues of yet, still the last representative of the trade who is still involved in the Twins organization.  The 6’5″ righthander is working as a starter in the Twins AAA Rochester affiliate, but his stats are nondescript: 0-3, 6.84 ERA and 1.720 WHIP.  Yuck.  However, starting the year in AA New Britain, he was 1-3, 3.20 ERA and 1.207 WHIP.  A bit better, so perhaps he’s just green.  At barely 21 years old, I may have to agree.  We’ll have to keep our eye on him to see how he turns out, since the Twins found him valuable enough to keep him around.

It is perhaps too soon to analyze how well the Mets will make off with Johan Santana in their pitching rotation and not hanging onto the likes of Mulvey, Humber and Guerra.  The fact is, prospects are prospects for a reason: they stay that way for awhile and some pan out, some do not.  While we have the feel-good stories of Stephen Strasberg and “The Other” Mike Stanton, they are exceptions rather than the rule of break-out stars. These could also be cautionary tales of trading prospects before giving them a chance, in instances of half-year rentals or those without long-term contracts.

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First-Half and Second-Half Santana: Myth or Reality? Tue, 22 Jun 2010 13:57:32 +0000 I’m sure like most of you, I was tickled orange-and-blue when Johan Santana was traded to the New York Mets in the offseason leading to the 2008 season.  I have a few friends who were from Minnesota who did warn me, however, that Santana takes a while to “warm up” during the season.  Expect a not-so-dominant first half, but he finishes strong second-half.

I thought – pshaw!  That would all change.  I mean, wasn’t the reason Santana wanted to come to the National League was to be strong and dominant all year round?

Judging by his first few months in 2008, even I said at one point that I wasn’t impressed yet.  By the end, I had forgotten about how slow-ish start, remembered his strong finish and wondered what could have been done differently so he could have won the Cy Young in 2008.  I finally came around to my Minny friends thinking: Johan Santana has great numbers by season’s end, but we must exhaust patience watching him pitch over the year.

It’s hard to do that this year though.  In three games where he’s had bases loaded situations in this season alone, he’s given up three grand slams in incredibly visible games/losses.  Some might argue that the offense is letting Santana down this season, and to an extent that is true.  However, no one is exactly telling Johan to give up grand slams like cookies at a blood donation stand either.

Are we viewing First Half Johan?  Or is this a power drop-off to be concerned about, that Second Half Santana won’t alleviate?

Career-wise these are his numbers, with the splits of first-half and second-half (including this season):

1st Half: 66-45/3.42/1.162 WHIP

BA Against: .233/.290/.383

2nd Half:  61-19/2.73/1.061 WHIP

BA Against: .215/.270/.347

Johan Santana’s numbers are a little damning so early this season, as one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball and the “ace” of his staff, sporting a 5-4 record in 15 starts, a so-so ERA of 3.31 and a could-be-lots-better WHIP of 1.224.  His lifetime average K/9 is 8.9; currently, he is well below average at 5.7.  There is margin of improvement, since it is still relatively early in the season, but it’s alarming to me to see him so below his first-half K/9 average of 8.9.  I’m pretty certain that is a pace he won’t be able to beat or at the very least meet by the end of the first-half.

Of course, it hasn’t helped that some of the losses he’s incurred have been incredibly visible (complete with three losses to the Nationals, Phillies and Yankees where a grand slam was hit in EACH GAME).  There are some baseball statisticians who believe the win-loss record of an individual pitcher is the most overrated stat in all baseball (see: Tim Lincecum), when we should look at games where the pitcher has started that the team has ultimately won.  Out of Johan Santana’s starts in 2010, the team has only won SEVEN of 15 games.  (Ouch) Ten out of 15 starts he’s left the game where the Mets were tied or winning.  Yet, the Mets are still 7-8 in his starts.

In that respect, some people point to the offense failing him.  That’s a fair argument, given the stats above.  Some even point to the lack of Mets run support that would disallow Santana from making a start in the All-Star Game?  Would it be so bad if Johan did not make the All-Star game, though?

One thing I will admit concern over in Santana’s pitching is that there seems to be a wee bit of a power drop-off.  Let’s take a look at his Cy Young Award years, full-season, then splits.  In 2004, he had a 20-6 record, 2.61 ERA and 0.921 WHIP.  First Half: 7-6/3.78/1.067.  Second Half: 13-0/1.21/0.748.  (I almost had to check my eyes for that second-half ERA and WHIP, by the way).

In 2006, his second Cy Young year, he boasted a 19-6 record, 2.77 ERA and 0.997 WHIP.  First Half: 9-5/2.95/1.000.  Second Half: 10-1/2.54/0.994.

I feel like I sometimes forget how good he actually was for us in 2008, especially in the second half of the season.  Overall, he had a 16-7 record, 2.53 ERA and 1.148 WHIP.  First Half: 8-7/2.84/1.192.  Second Half: 8-0/2.17/1.096.  I won’t go into 2009, since it was injury-shortened.

Which brings me to my next point.  A legitimate concern as viewers we have is that Johan Santana’s velocity seems to have dropped quite a bit, and he’s walking way too many batters.  That is very true, evidenced in his WHIP thus far this season and his massive drop-off in K/9 average.  Lest we forget that he DID have an injury-shortened season in 2009 and was pitching with pain in 2008 (and still managed to gut out an amazing last day of the season performance and put up CY numbers for most of the season).  So technically he is coming off of two injury-ridden years and is getting back in the swing of things.  I, for one, am not surprised about his slow-ish start this season given these outlying data.

It’s easy to say that Johan Santana isn’t earning his contract, the Mets overpaid for him, he should be putting the Mets in the best position to win, etc. etc. etc.

Another high profile and highly paid ace sports the most losses on his team and also got gave up four runs in his start on Sunday, losing 4-1: Roy Halladay.  His stats are not bad: 8-6 record/2.43 ERA/1.078 WHIP.  However, the Phillies’ record with his starts (also 15) is just above .500 (remember: in Santana’s starts this season, the Mets are 7-8).  Halladay has pitched a perfect game!  Halladay hardly gives up runs!  My argument is that the Phillies cannot expect to win every Halladay start, nor can the Mets expect to win every Santana start.

No one knows better than I do how tough it is to lose two out of three to the Yankees, especially in a game where Santana starts and he gives up a grand slam.  Is this a first half hiccup?  Or indicative of future performance?

My theory on Johan Santana is that he is easing into the season due to injury recovery and that he may be performing extra carefully to ease himself in.  Therefore, we can expect a stronger second half.  However, I think the first half and second half differential that everyone screams about is a myth.  There will be a noticeable improvement with Johan, but it’s hardly the dramatic metamorphosis we have been brainwashed to believe.

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Mike in the Mix: Pelfrey’s Phenomenal Season So Far Tue, 01 Jun 2010 12:34:04 +0000 The National League has always been seen as more of the “cerebral” league in baseball, the one where managers have to think and not just throw out eight hitters plus an additional one each day but have strategy, one of which pitching is more valuable than hitting.  Pitching has created several headlines this season, with one no-hitter and two, count ‘em, TWO perfect games (one in each league).  And it’s only May!  I’m sure like most of you, I prefer seeing a pitcher’s duel any day over a home-run derby type of blowout.

My current fan-crush is on San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum, last year’s Cy Young Award Winner (and the year before).  I feel like I am weird because though I am a Mets fan, first and foremost, I never turn down a chance to go to a game at another park where I can appreciate the art of the game.  I’m sure if I lived closer to the San Francisco area, I would be going to see Lincecum start any time I could.  (On a side note, I am going to his bobblehead giveaway in July this year – yes, the Mets will be in town).  It’s a crying shame Lincecum has no run support on his team, boasting only seven decisions in 11 starts.  He is a strikeout MACHINE though with 83, count ‘em, 83 Ks so far in 70.2 IP.  Aye carumba!

I don’t like the team he is on, but one has to give props to the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, who pitched a perfect game just this weekend.  Currently, Halladay has some sick numbers, with a 7-3 record (not recording a decision in just one start), with 1.99 ERA, 0.988 WHIP and 70 Ks in 86 IP.

(On a side note, both Lincecum’s and Halladay’s middle names are Leroy.  In fact, that is how Halladay got his nickname of “Roy.”  Just thought that was funny.  Moving right along…)

The Colorado Rockies do not have such a rich pitching history (Jason Jennings, anyone?), but Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez has been en fuego this season, leading the league in wins with 10 (boasting a 10-1 record in 11 starts), 0.78 ERA, 0.925 WHIP and 70 Ks in 80.1 IP.  Not to mention TWO complete games.  Jimenez also pitched the NL’s first no-hitter of the season in April against the Braves

To the naked eye (or casual fan), if you were to ask “Who is the Mets staff ace?”, certainly one would blurt “Johan Santana” without blinking an eye.  The funny thing is, I probably would have said the same thing, since he himself said that in the offseason, when asked who the best pitcher in the NL East was, “Santana” was his answer.

The bright star in the Mets season has been none other than Michael Alan Pelfrey, or as we like to call him Mets’ world, “Big Pelf.”  It used to be that when Santana would take the mound, Mets fans felt as though this was the best shot at winning.  I am really happy to say that I feel that way when Big Pelf takes the mound these days.

It wasn’t always so easy for Pelf.  I always kind of felt like he was rushed and it took him a good year, year and a half to get into the “groove” of things.  We finally got a glimpse of how good Pelfrey could be in 2008, when he started in 32 games, going 13-11 with 110 Ks in 202.2 IP.  Mets fans always said that we needed a guy who could go 200+ IP per year, and it looked like Pelfrey was finally over that hump.

Enter his lackluster campaign in 2009.  While the injury bug seemingly did not hit Pelfrey, his bottom line took a hit, with a 10-12 record on the season, with a slightly atrocious WHIP of 1.514.

Most Mets fans did not know what to expect of Pelfrey in 2010, whether his sophomore jinx was more a result of the infamous Verducci Effect, or if he was somewhere in the middle of what he’s shown us so far.

Pelfrey has given us a little bit of everything in 2010 and all of the good stuff.  He’s currently tied for second in league wins with 7 (well, he’s tied with five other pitchers, but that’s besides the point), and we’re starting to feel as though he is more of an exclamation point in the rotation as opposed to a question mark.  Heck, he even earned a SAVE in the epic marathon 20-inning game against the Cardinals in April!  He currently has a 2.54 ERA and an average WHIP of 1.304 (still lower than his career so-far average of 1.467, only “borderline” atrocious).

It’s unfortunate that he was the Susan Lucci of the month of April, overshadowed by the dominant performance of Jimenez who won the National League Pitcher of the Month in April.  Perhaps, it’s the lack of pressure that is allowing Pelfrey to perform at this level.  I would also like to point out that he recently shut down the division rival Phillies against, well, I guess their version of Pelfrey in Cole Hamels (since we cannot call him an “ace” there anymore, that truly belongs to Halladay at this point) the other night.

Mike Pelfrey has been one of the unsung heroes thus far in 2010, not to mention the unsung pitching secondary “ace” on the team who will always be overshadowed by Johan Santana.  Not that it’s bad thing.  Maybe being out of the spotlight will help Pelfrey flourish and be the pitcher he is supposed to be.

Chances are, we can look back at Pelfrey’s career and say he is the best homegrown righty this team has had since Doc Gooden.  Of course, his career right now after two full seasons and two abbreviated seasons is more reminiscent of Bobby J. Jones, another homegrown righty from Fresno.

I doubt Pelfrey will be tied for second in wins this whole season, or that he won’t have some hiccup starts along the way.  However, I am a card-carrying member of the Mike Pelfrey Appreciation Society…are you???

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Is Hisanori Takahashi The Answer? Mon, 17 May 2010 23:58:51 +0000 Who is Hisanori Takahashi?

Peering into the vacuum of 2010, I would have to say he has been one of the most consistent relievers for the Mets this season.  And…well, that’s about it.

The rumblings we’ve been hearing on blogs, news sites and other media forms are true: Takahashi is scheduled to make Friday night’s start against the Yankees, which was projected to be Jonathon Niese’s.  The other news there is that Niese apparently has a “mild” hamstring strain and will be re-evaluated in a few days…of course, we can only take what the Mets training staff says with a grain of salt…that’s just a little joke.  I hope.

Of course, most Mets fans were led to believe he was slated to start in place of Oliver Perez; however, making an appearance in Jon Niese’s hamstring-pull-shortened game on Sunday — this sounds like a theme here — limited him to fillling in for Niese again this week.

What I wanted to know is what kind of pitcher Takahashi was in Japan (he played for the Yomiuri Giants for 10 seasons) and whether he could pass the sniff test of being a starter in the National League.

Currently, Takahashi is sporting a 3-1 record after appearing in 15 games as a reliever, with 26 innings pitched, an ERA 3.12, a WHIP of 1.385 and 33 strikeouts.

As a Yomiuri Giant, Takahashi has a lifetime record of 70-59 from 2000-09, with 2006 being an “anomaly” of a year yielding 15 saves.  He has an average ERA of 3.67 and 933 total Ks over that period of time.  He also has an average 1.26 WHIP over that course, according to his scouting report.

Also mentioned in his scouting report was that lefties hit him hard (.300 BA) and that he is not a real innings eater, hence why he was sent to the bullpen here.  He is also 35 years old.  Being there was no mention of whether he is the Yomiuri Giant version of Jamie Moyer (I kid), it appears to me that the Mets could expect a good 5-6 inning outing from him.  That is, if the Yankees decide not to tee off him in the opening innings.

I think we can glean a few things from a Takahashi start.  One is, his stats suggest that he could be a formidable fifth starter who can give them a good chance to win as long as the offense comes through.  Two is that the few times we’ve seen him perform on a dime he has really gone above and beyond what anyone has expected.  In other words, even with the value of the stats we were given before he even pitched a game with the Mets, the amount of goodwill he has created so far this season should translate into a productive start.

Notice I said “should” translate.  If he flunks out, I’ll use that as my backup argument.  Hisanori Takahashi may not exactly be “Mr. Right” for the rotation, but he’s “Mr. Right Now,” so we should take it.  I am looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in his start on Friday.

Heck, it’s gotta be better than what we’ve seen from the back-end of the rotation the last few starts.

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Beasts of the East Fri, 07 May 2010 13:30:46 +0000 The Mets created a lot of goodwill with their loyal fans after a 9-1 homestand late in April.  It certainly seemed as though some things were working: Ike Davis was called up and created an impression on the team and the fanbase, Jose Reyes moved his spot in the lineup and it seemed to work for at least the short term and two of the so-called “big bats” in David Wright and Jason Bay were tearing it up.  The pitching was phenomenal, both starting and bullpen, with some notable surprises such as Takahashi in the ‘pen and John Maine starting to come around.

Of course, as a collective, Mets fans were absolutely SALIVATING at the thought of spanking the Phillies in the City of Brotherly Love and taking possession of first place by a landslide (at least, as much as a team can at this point in the year).  Well, we all know how that turned out.  A promising start by our homegrown pitcher in Jonathon Niese Friday night led us to believe that with our two aces starting the next two days in Mike “Big Pelf” Pelfrey and Johan Santana, we were certain to win at the very least one of those two games.

The Mets left on the Pennsylvania Railroad towards Cincinnati with a 1-2 record against the Phillies.

As of now, the Mets have faced every team in the NL East, and they have only won precisely one series so far against the Braves, that they swept.  The rest add up to a 3-6 record against the Marlins, Nationals and Phillies.  So far, the Mets sport a 15-13 record, with a 6-6 record against the other teams in the East.

Let me repeat that: the Mets are so far playing .500 ball against NL East teams. One would think that with the Mets start of the season (2-4 against the Marlins and Nationals) and subsequent road losses, leading to their win streak going into Philadelphia only to falter there, the record would look a lot worse than .500 against teams in the East.  Not only that, the division is still VERY close with the season well underway.

This leads me to my next observation: are things really all that bad with how the Mets have shown up against other teams in the East?  Are they just competitive?  Or competitively bad?  Let’s take a look, shall we?  As of May 6 after all games have been played (Mets had the day off), the standings are:

  • Phillies 17-11
  • Mets 15-13 (2 games back)
  • Nationals 15-13 (2)
  • Marlins 13-15 (4)
  • Braves 12-16 (5)

A gap of five games between first and fifth is not that bad.  In fact, it leads me to believe that the division is ripe for the taking.  In comparison, the only division that had a closer differential was the AL West, with three games separating their first and last place team (I’d also like to point out that only two of their teams are playing at or over .500).   The biggest differential?  The AL East, with a 13.5 game gap between first and last place.

I think we can glean a few things from these standings.

Even with the Phillies suffering from injury bugs, they are still a force with which to be reckoned.

The Nationals are providing more bite than bark this year, with a respectable record this point of the year.  Looking at standings from previous years, at May 6, 2009, they boasted a 8-18 record (7 games back) and 14-19 as of May 6, 2008 (4.5 games from first).  For those years respectively, they ended up 33 games from first and 32.5 games from first.

Even for fourth and fifth place teams at the moment, the Marlins and the Braves still have chances to make things “interesting” (as they are wont to do, especially when they play the Mets it seems).  The Marlins have always reminded me of the pup Scrappy Doo — “Lemme at ‘em, I’ll splat ‘em!”  The Braves are, well, they’re the Braves.  Atlanta had a respectable winning record in 2009 with 86-76 although finished well under .500 in 2008, 20 games back from first place.

Am I concerned about the Mets?  Of course I am.  I am concerned for situational hitting.  I am concerned that the bullpen will be run into the ground by May 15 (whoa!  That’s just next week).  I am concerned that Gary Matthews, Jr. will continue to start games because of the amount of money he is making while a dude languishes in AAA who should have been brought up with the team after Spring Training.  I am concerned that Carlos Beltran may return too late to tear things up enough in the division.  I am worried about Jason Bay and his perceived “streakiness” which is a nice way of saying “slumpiness.”

What I am not concerned about though is the competition in the NL East.  The competition looks close enough so far that the division is ripe for the taking.

Omar Minaya recently took a lot of heat (deservedly so, if you ask me) when he mentioned that he would be happy with taking one game against the offensively mighty and pitching rich St. Louis Cardinals.  Well, they did, but I was angry about the whole “aiming low” business.  Enough.

The division could easily be anyone’s.  Doing a few things right, the Mets could easily take it.  Do they have the brass though?  Discuss!

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Mets 2010 Lineup Just Got A Whole Lot Better Tue, 05 Jan 2010 21:22:53 +0000 While reading Joel Sherman’s latest column at the NY Post, he gave his take on what the Mets lineup would like if he were filling out the lineup card. He is operating on the assumption that the Mets will sign Bengie Molina and re-sign Carlos Delgado.

If I were writing out the Mets’ lineup – especially if they land Delgado and Molina – this is what I would do: 1. Reyes. 2. Wright. 3. Beltran. 4. Bay. 5. Delgado. 6. Francoeur. 7. Molina. 8. Castillo.

He justifies it as follows:

1) A huge key to this Mets season is the need to get Wright going again. By hitting Wright between the speed of Reyes and the might of Beltran, he should get plenty of fastballs, plus his patience should help Reyes on the bases.

2) Castillo sees pitches, but he is no threat atop the lineup. I would rather have an opposing pitcher walk a minefield of Reyes/Wright/Beltran/Bay/Delgado as much as possible and not give that pitcher the reprieve of Castillo, who just cannot drive the ball for extra bases.

3) Castillo at the bottom of the order at least provides some patience – prior to the pitcher’s spot – after Francoeur and Molina, two of the least patient hitters in the majors. I think if Francoeur, Molina and the pitcher are run together, the Mets are setting up a bottom third of the lineup that is going to be retired on 6-7 pitches in total too frequently.

He makes a lot of sense and I can’t help noticing how imposing that lineup looks.

I love having the switch hitting Beltran batting in between right-handed batters Wright and Bay, and all of a sudden having Delgado’s lefty bat in the five hole followed by Francouer and Molina… well it looks quite intimidating.

Of course if the Mets fail to get Delgado, it changes the complexion a little, but it’s still rather imposing if you move Francoeur up to the five spot and replaced him with Daniel Murphy at number six.

Either way, I’m very excited about today’s turn of events.

Regarding Bengie Molina, Sherman writes:

One Mets official flatly said the organization will not budge from its offer of one year with an option. The Mets cannot see another team that needs a catcher that is willing to go to two years and – even if there is – the Mets are leery of giving the bulky, 35-year-old Molina more than one guaranteed year.

It’s good to see the Mets sticking to their guns after a season in which many expected they would act desperately. Good job by all.

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